Operation Ice Cube

by Daniel L. Haulman

Operation Name:
Operation Ice Cube
September 2, 1954
Emergency: A hurricane hit New England, leaving millions of residents without refrigeration.
Organizations: 18th Air Transport Squadron (Medium)
Airlifted: 20 tons of dry ice.
Aircraft Used: C–54 (one)

On the morning of August 31, Hurricane Carol swept northward across eastern Long Island and central New England, leaving 55 people dead and $500 million in property damage in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared 25 New England and Long Island counties disaster areas and ordered federal assistance to storm victims.

Blowing down hundreds of power lines, the storm left two million people without electricity in New England alone. Hurricane Carol passed just west of Boston, where wind gusts in excess of 100 mph toppled the famous Old North Church (Christ Church) steeple.

Governor Christian Herter of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency and ordered the Public Health Department to seize dry ice supplies, as tons of food began to spoil. When the state exhausted its supply of dry ice, it arranged to buy tons of the refrigerant from the Pure Carbonic Company of Newark, New Jersey, in a desperate attempt to save remaining food supplies. Governor Herter then contacted the Atlantic Division of MATS for an emergency airlift of dry ice.

On September 2, the 18th Air Transport Squadron (Medium) at McGuire AFB, New Jersey, flew a C–54 with 10 tons of dry ice from Newark Municipal Airport to Boston’s Logan Airport. The cargo plane made two trips in an operation appropriately dubbed Operation Ice Cube. Officials distributed the refrigerant to food warehouses and grocery stores, limiting the spoilage of food supplies to about a million pounds.

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